Bob Schieffer Ties 20th Anniversary of Rodney King Riots to Trayvon Martin

April 29th, 2012 7:50 PM

CBS's Bob Schieffer ended Sunday's Face the Nation by disgracefully connecting the 20th anniversary of the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles to Trayvon Martin.

After showing videos of the King beating as well as the aftermath of the criminal trial, Schieffer stated - with a black and white picture of the Sanford teenager on the screen - "When the Trayvon Martin case came to public attention this year, King said the screams on those tapes reminded him of his own" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

BOB SCHIEFFER, HOST: Finally, it was twenty years ago today that some of the worst riots in American history broke out in Los Angeles. Before they were over, fifty-five people would die, more than twenty-three hundred would be hurt.

MAN: And there's no police presence down here.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And a billion dollars in damage would be recorded. That is our FACE THE NATION Flashback.

It would take the police, U.S. Marines, the Army, and the National Guard to finally restore order. The riots broke out after a jury acquitted a group of Los Angeles police officers who had been caught on video tape beating a speeding driver named Rodney King after a high-speed chase. Some of the officers were later convicted in federal court, and King won a multi-million-dollar civil lawsuit but was in and out of trouble with the law for many years.

DARYL GATES: We were simply overwhelmed.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Even so the case would have a lasting impact on race relations and police procedure.

WOMAN (911 Call): Nine one one, do you need police, fire, or medical?

BOB SCHIEFFER: When the Trayvon Martin case came to public attention this year, King said the screams on those tapes reminded him of his own.

Today's FACE THE NATION Flashback.

This was the picture CBS News panned in on near the end of the segment:

So when does this head-hunting for George Zimmerman stop?

He's already been arrested and now faces a trial for second degree murder. Does it do him or the family of Martin any good to have media members like Schieffer ginning up racial tensions further?

We already have cases of blacks attacking whites out of vengeance for Martin.

Doesn't anyone at CBS News understand that making such a direct connection between King and Martin increases these tensions?

Consider too how this segment was promoted at the CBS News website:

"LA riots echo in Sanford, Fla."

How will Schieffer and the gang feel if that's exactly what happens after a possible acquittal of Zimmerman? What will their excuse be?

Schieffer certainly won't be able to blame it on youthful exuberance or inexperience. He's 75-years-old and has worked for CBS News since 1969.

Did he learn anything in the last 43 years?